WHO WILL SECURE NIGERIA? By Jibrin Ndace
In the last one week, the media space has been awash with comments by stakeholders about heightened security challenges confronting Africa’s most populous and most promising nation, Nigeria.
Security concerns have led front pages in many traditional and online platforms, it has also formed discussion topics on major television and radio talk shows across the country.
Renewed attacks by Boko Haram and ISWAP as well as propagandist show-off of the execution a Christian student of the University of Maiduguri, Mr. Ropvil Dalyop, and Pastor Lawan Andimi in Adamawa – apparently to ignite religious war; kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities have further created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty experienced in pre-2015 elections.
The Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, having gauged the mood of the nation, spoke to journalists at an event in Abuja, few days to resumption of National Assembly from recess. Lawan, told the world that Nigeria’s security architecture has failed and required restructuring. He said: “Apparently, the system has not been working efficiently and effectively and we have to do something. This time around there should not be buck passing, we have to be forthright. We have to say it as it is and we have to do it as it is required.”
Lawan’s x-ray of the security situation in the country was followed by varied, but unified outburst by members of the National Assembly both Senate and House of Representatives on their first plenary sessions after recess. In both chambers, there was outcry and grandstanding bothering on outrage as well as show of Trumpian populism (my coinage).
In less than 24 hours, a sort of emergency National Security Council meeting was convened at the Presidential Villa. The closed door meeting which was chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari had in attendance, Vice President Yomi Osinbajo, Secretary to Government of Federation, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi, rtd, Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno, rtd, Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olanisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshall Sadiq Baba Abubakar, Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, Chief of Defence Intelligence, Air Vice Marshall Mohammed Usman, Director-General, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar and Director-General Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi.
Addressing State House reporters after the closed-door meeting, the National Security Adviser said: “The meeting basically made an appraisal of the current security situation in the country and took a look at the possibilities, the opportunities available to government in addressing most of the recent challenges.”
“The most important thing that we came up with is the need for collaboration, both between governmental agencies and the larger society because of the type of insurgencies we are faced with, the complexities, multiplicity of all kinds of issues.
“There is a need for us to deal with these problems in a comprehensive manner.”
Still, in an attempt to find lasting solution to the security challenges, President Buhari met with the Senate President and Speaker, House of Representatives,at the State House afterwards.
After the closed door meeting, Lawan and Gbajabiamila seemed to have an altered view from the previous outburst in the National Assembly. Addressing newsmen, Lawan said: “Mr. President was forthcoming; of course as the leader of the country, he is more worried than anybody else about the situation. So we are on the same page that we should be able to do whatever it takes to ensure that security agencies are able to perform better than they are doing now.”
The Senate has also gone ahead to inaugurate an 18-member adhoc committee to look into the current security architecture of the country and make recommendations on the way forward. It is also mandated to take a holistic approach on the urgent need to restructure, review and reorganize the current security architecture. Lawan charged the members to be rigorous, have a clear understanding of “the nature of the security crisis, have realistic assessment of the problem and proffer workable solutions.”
What is clear however, is the genuine concern and rising level of insecurity, and the need to deploy appropriate measures to keep Nigeria secured for all Nigerians. There is a consensus on the need for more collaboration, inclusiveness, cooperation and synergy between and among all stakeholders. It is also obvious that there is a huge gap among various sectors of governments on the one hand, and between government and the people.
These steps by the executive and legislative arms of government is a welcome development. It is also heartwarming that the two arms have promised Nigerians holistic, multi-sectoral approach towards ending insecurity. However, these measures so far, are clearly reactive and based on spur-of-the-moment to a major national security challenge.
The last one week has not indicated any thing new in what has been said or done. All the issues highlighted, and the approaches by both executive and legislative arms of government are common knowledge to Nigerians. It is common knowledge that there has been lack of synergy and collaboration between and among relevant stakeholders due to intra and inter services and agencies rivalry. Nigerians have also become used to grandstanding by members of the National Assembly to major national issues that require a more robust, bipartisan approach rather than stoking fear, hopelessness and helplessness. The Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representaitves didn’t say anything new when they spoke about welfare of men of armed forces and other security agencies. Poor welfare, funding challenges, inadequate manpower among other challenges bedeviling the security sector is in the public domain. What the National Security Adviser, Monguno said after the National Security Council meeting is also not new. Indeed, all these issues are in the recently launched National Security Strategy.
The current public perception of stakeholders in the security sector – executive, legislative and security agencies tend to reinforce the famous statement by India’s Strategic Studies expert, K Subrahmanyam thus: “Politicians enjoy power without responsibility, bureaucrats wield authority without any accountability and the military assumes responsibility without any direction.”
Therefore, one urgent step to be taken by both executive and legislative arms to assure Nigerians, is not just to talk, they must walk the talk this time. As I have noted in my previous columns adhoc, reactive approaches will not solve Nigeria’s current and emerging challenges. The new approach should be one that changes public perception on the political will and commitment of all concerned.
It is also important to note that while government is expected to take responsibility for securing lives and property, citizens must also be responsible enough to support government and security agencies efforts at all tines.
To keep Nigeria and Nigerians safe, there has to be a unified front and angry citizens whose anger is not directed at fellow citizens or government, rather at criminal elements irrespective of ethnic, religious and political affiliations.
Above all, there must be a well-oiled communication strategy that protects and projects military and other security agencies, continuously informs and educate Nigerians on the efforts of government in curbing current and emerging challenges as well as creating awareness on roles and responsibilities of citizens towards curbing activities of criminal non-state actors.
We must realize that keeping Nigeria and Nigerians safe is the responsibility of all Nigerians.